Back on Land

One Navy wife making a life back on land.


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I Freaking Miss My Husband

These are the days when this life gets to me.

When I’m just a little stressed and sharing it with him would make it all better. I freaking miss my husband.

When the oven dies in the middle of cooking dinner, he’d be the one getting angry for no reason instead of me. I freaking miss my husband.

When my day has been long, and I know that even though his was as well he would offer to take on story time so I can get a break. Then he would stay upstairs for two extra stories because daddy’s girl asked him to. I freaking miss my husband.

When first days of school are being had. Last first day in junior high. Last first day in preschool. Possibly last first days in Washington. I freaking miss my husband.

When I wake up in the morning, and it’s cold. When my bed is much colder than when I laid down alone the night before. I freaking miss my husband.

I have nothing to complain about really, and I know that. The stress is from a job I choose to do. The oven will be replaced on the owner’s dime. Story time is precious, and last first days aren’t that big of a deal. But all of these things are our things, and having them without him is simply one more reminder of the cold, hard fact that he isn’t here.

I have nothing to complain about because I am so proud of him. Because we’ve done this before and will do it again. Because I know all the tips and tricks. Because I know he will come home again … safe and sooner than most.

I have nothing to complain about … I just freaking miss my husband.


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On the Age Gap

So …. my kids.

I have three of them. Three daughters. Their ages are 16, 13, and 4. Most of the time I find the age gap to be … troublesome. Playdates? For Alli, yes, but then Aubrey and Sydney are left out or left home. A trip to Seattle? Great for Aubrey and Sydney but will Alli be able to keep up with all the walking? Will she be grumpy without an afternoon nap? Even hanging out with family friends can be weird because most of our friends have either littles or bigs, not both like we do, and I have to figure out how make it work for everyone.

Every single activity takes twice the planning, can be very tiring, and always keeps me on my toes.

But …

Sometimes straddling both worlds is amazing.

Today for instance I have snuggled with a little sweetie on the couch AND  had a beautiful conversation with my oldest about being happy with what we have. I witnessed the wonder of growing tomatoes through fresh young eyes and shared a rare teen hug with Sydney. I watched as the youngest shows of newly acquired sandwich making skills and looked ahead at the days when she will be as competent in the kitchen as both Alli and Sydney are growing to be.

I think I too often complain about the age gaps in our kids because it does require so much extra of me, but at least for today I’d like to step back and really see what a blessing it is to have toddler creativity and adolescent deep thoughts, preschooler energy levels and the teenager chill breaks.

So … I have three kids … ages 16, 13, and 4 … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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Girls on Submarines (Or Rather MY Girl on Submarines)

Last week a friend posted a link to Facebook entitled Enlisted Women to Join Sub Crews Starting in 2016 along with the comment “A recipe for disaster.” Before I gave it a second thought, I quickly commented back … in writing … on Facebook.

I disagree. I think they have already done a great job integrating female officers and have nicely paved the way for enlisted women.

Let me just tell you that this one little comment goes against all my own Facebook rules because I have a strict do-not-argue-on-Facebook-because-Facebook-arguers-look-stupid policy. I was very quickly (but surprisingly nicely) disagreed with, and I quickly bowed out of the conversation. I even hid it from my News Feed the same way I used to hide under my blankets in the dark. Only this time I wasn’t afraid. I was annoyed.

Annoyed at what I feel is sexism. Annoyed at women of the opinion to keep other women down. Annoyed at what I see to be petty excuses for keeping at bay a change that is inevitable.

The topic came up again later in the week, and I was asked for my opinion. So hear it is.

I’m for it. Simple as that. I want women on submarines, more of them every single day. I am beyond proud that my husband serves on a submarine with female officers on board, and to be completely honest, in the few instances that I have had the opportunity to speak to those incredible women, I have been quite star struck. I am a strong woman. I am drawn to strong women, and I am, dare I say, awed by the trails these women are blazing. They will be drawn into history as pioneers. Little girls will look up to them.

I happen to have three such little girls.

On a recent Family Day, when all the families of our boat were invited to visit the submarine, Josh and I took our three daughters past the checkpoint, across the brow, and down the ladder into his world. He was a wonderful tour guide, and over the next few hours we visited the Control Room and tried out of the periscope, listened to the water through giant headphones in Sonar,  and even visited dad’s work space in DPER. We climbed ladders, crouched through water tight doors, and even ate chicken nuggets and drank Bug Juice on the mess decks. While we tried out the couches in the Goatlocker, Sydney, age 13 and averse to all things educational, said, “I want to be on a submarine when I grow up.” Sydney, who normally wants nothing more than to watch her shows on TV or another turn on the computer to play games, wants to be a Submariner. She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and serve her country.

And to me, to this momma, that trumps all the excuses you could have against it. I want my children, my daughters, to have every opportunity available to them. Succeed or fail, I want them to be able to try, and I felt a little guilty explaining to her that at present there are only a handful of women serving on submarines, that this is not something that is openly available to her.

This momma believes in a woman’s right to serve on a submarine.

Of course I’m not so naive as to believe this change won’t have problems. Big changes often require … well … BIG CHANGES. I don’t think it’s impossible though, and apparently neither does the United States Navy.

And then there are the “buts” …

But why would a woman even want to be stuck in a tin can under the water for three months with 150 men? I often wonder why any MAN would want to be stuck in a tin can under the water for three months with 150 men.

But what if they get pregnant? Because clearly no woman ever was able to control her hormones around men who reek of boat smell. Seriously though I suppose she would be relieved from that duty and replaced or not, the same as when a man has a medical requirement to leave the boat and is replaced or not. Manning on a submarine is never perfect. You’re a man or woman down? Okay, that’s great. Get back to work. (And that’s not just my opinion; that’s just reality.)

But what if a woman was assaulted on a submarine?  That would be awful. It would be terrible, but sadly it wouldn’t be anything that doesn’t happen on any other Navy vessel that women are already serving on. Just as on those other vessels, it would be dealt with by the command. I don’t think that because it might happen on a submarine it would be dismissed any more or less than anywhere else in the military. It is a sad fact that these assaults happen, but they happen because of bad service members, not because of where a female happens to be serving.

But are women even physically capable of doing the same job? This is one of my personal favorite buts to which I answer…  some of them yes … and some of them no. I have known women who built houses, fixed cars, lifted heavy things, and did also sorts of so-called manly jobs. I have also known men that I outworked every day of the week. Women, like men, come in all different shapes and sizes with a variety of different abilities. I absolutely hate the idea of painting all women, or men for that matter, with the same brush. Just as not all men are pigs; not all women are 90-pound weaklings.

I guess my point is this. I know big changes will have to be made, but I don’t believe they are impossible or even improbable. I know problems will arise, but I believe in the Navy’s ability to solve them. I know that not every woman is suited for sub life, but I also know not every man is so suited either.

Most importantly, I know that my Sydney wants to be a Submariner, and I am thankful to live in a day and age when, succeed or fail, she will have the opportunity to try.

P.S. Thank you so very much for reading this, but please be aware:  This is not an open forum for argument. I may or may not answer comments, and I am may or may not delete any comments that are mean or rude. This piece is nothing more than one momma’s opinion, and whether you agree or not won’t change my mind.


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5 Reasons Deployment is Awesome

I run the usual gamut of emotions before each and every patrol. I get argumentative with my sailor beforehand, and I cry when I think of him leaving again. I get angry with him/the boat/the Navy when things would be much easier if he were home to help me manage them. I feel lonely on duty nights, reminded of the many long lonely nights ahead of me. I sometimes even wonder if our lives wouldn’t be much better if my sailor would simply leave the Navy. He would be home, every day, all the time, and I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotional toll deployments take on our whole family time and time again. It might be kinda nice, you know?

But without another (and another and another) deployment looming, I’m reminding myself that it isn’t all bad. In fact a few parts are downright awesome!

  1. Watching a submarine in motion is a beautiful thing. I am incredibly proud my sailor, and even though watching him sail away is difficult, knowing he proudly serves our country eases the pain. I feel so blessed to share those bittersweet moments with my kids and with a special group of spouses I am so proud to call my friends.
  2. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Josh and I argue and fuss like any other couple, but it’s much easier to forget all the nit picky things you don’t like about your sailor (like maybe leaving the empty milk jug on the counter every single time, dear!!!) when you haven’t seen him in weeks or months. Distance really brings into focus what’s important!
  3. Mail drops. Of course I like sending care packages, but I really like receiving mail in return. It feels very special reading his private thoughts and knowing all the things that little envelope went through to get from his heart to mine.
  4. I’ve missed my boat friends! Some spouses have a tendency to shut out the world while their sailor is home to maximize every possible moment. I may or may not be guilty of this behavior (wink-wink), so when the boat leaves and we they  come out to play it’s like reuniting with old friends all over again!
  5. Homecoming! I love dreaming about it! I love planning it! I love living it! Homecoming is one time when I feel a little sorry for civilian families that never get to experience that amazing feeling when you see someone you love, someone you’ve missed and worried about and longed for for months on end for the very first time. It’s kind of like having that first kiss one more time. Only I get to enjoy that moment over and over again!

 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some Susie Sunshine who thinks everything is perfect. It isn’t. I know as well as anyone that there are bad days and that things will break as soon as he leaves, and  I know all about the deployment blues. However, I also know that attitude is everything, and my deployment choices include either simply making it through each day or choosing to make each day beautiful.

Honestly? Some days I just barely make it through… The rest of the time though I choose to be mindful of all the blessings that each day brings no matter if my sailor is here to enjoy them with me or not.

 

 

 


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My Deployment is Harder Than Your Deployment (And Other Nanny Nanny Boo Boo Nonsense)

One time a friend of mine sat in my living room tearful and sad and missing her sailor on their first deployment. He had been gone a few weeks. I sat with her. I nodded. I patted her hand and hugged her. I felt her pain.

I said, I understand. Josh has been gone for over two months now.”

And she looked up at me through tear-stained eyes and said, “But that’s nothing! You guys only do like three months, right? I could do three months with my hands tied behind my back!”

I didn’t quite feel her pain after that.

One thing that irks me to no end among military spouses is the argument over who has it the worst. My sailor’s job is harder. Our crew is gone longerMy soldier’s deployment is ten times worse than your sailor’s patrol will ever be. I’ve heard them all, and I think they are all EQUALLY stupid.

Does it really matter if your husband is gone longer? I get it. A year is much more single mom time than three months. It’s many more broken dishwashers or flat tires. It’s 365 lonely nights compared to my 90. Do you win?

Well, friend, my husband may be ONLY gone three months, but in those three, I never get to speak directly to him (no phones under the ocean, you see). I will never get to Skype or Facebook. I will never get to visit foreign ports with him. We hope for a mail drop or two and pray for email, but in our just three months, any communication at all is a privilege not a guarantee. Do I win?

On the other hand, at the end of three months I WILL have my sailor home again. Other military spouses say good-bye to husbands and wives headed for incredibly dangerous places. They’ve got the lonely nights, the broken stuff, AND significant time apart. PLUS, they are not just praying for an email or phone call; they’re praying that their soldier comes home AT ALL. Do they win?

No, they don’t, nor do you, and neither do I. Nobody wins because we’re supposed to be in this together. Supporting one another through the hard times (no matter how hard), the long nights (no matter how many), and the good times (no matter how few and far between). Nobody wins because it isn’t a competition.

You want to win? Sign up for a 5k.

You want to brag? Accomplish something.

You want to feel special? Do something, anything, that makes you feel special and go about your day! There’s no need to bring me down while you’re at it.

My deployment is hard no matter what you think, and I’m sure your’s sucks, too. Instead of competing to see who’s the biggest loser, let’s work together to see how we can make it all suck less. Because I do care. I do want to be here for you. I will hold your hand and hug you and give what I can.

What I won’t do is be put down in an argument I don’t believe in anyways.

 

 

 


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Tips for Surviving the First Day

The first day of a deployment is unarguably the worst.

Waking up before dawn to drive a full car to the base and returning home next to an empty seat.   That hug you wish would never end and that kiss that says so much and not enough all at the same time. Saying goodbye to half your heart and watching him walk away into the darkness. The quiet sound of sniffles from the back of the car from the kids who know what’s happening, and even the chatter of the youngest who doesn’t quite understand just yet. A long, lonely ride home staring into a long lonely day, the first of many.

These are the days that can crush you if you let them. The upside is that we know when it’s coming, and we can make plans to make the day a little brighter.

  1. I don’t like to clean … ever really but especially not when I’m sad and missing my sailor. I also don’t like to cook when I’m sad. I know; I know. My poor kids, right? Actually I just plan ahead. I make sure the laundry is caught up, the kitchen is reasonably done, and the rest of the house is picked up. We either eat DIY (everyone fends for themselves except for Alli), or we order in. There’s nothing quite like being day-one-depressed, but it’s much easier from the comfort of a clean couch scarfing on delivery.
  2. Acknowledge the sadness … it stinks to say good-bye. It’s hard not knowing when you will see your best friend again, when you will hug your dad again. It’s almost a tradition, I think, for me to say, “Well, that stinks!” as we drive away. We acknowledge the sadness, but we don’t let it take over.
  3. Recognize how amazing this crazy lifestyle is! I like to go see the submarine off. Scratch that! I love it, and I take the kids with me as often as possible. So many people have said, “I don’t  know how you stand him leaving so much!” I just think how fortunate I am, how fortunate my children are, to have a husband and father who we can be so proud of and to be able to be part of this crazy submarine life. Who gets to wave good-bye to a submarine? Seriously! Who gets to do that?!?
  4. Make it a special day! We’ve had early morning donuts or breakfast picnics. We’ve done pizza and a movie girls’ nights. We’ve done all kinds of silly things because yes, we miss him, but we also have to keep going and staying sad doesn’t really work for us.
  5. Use your feelings. I write lots and lots of letters and emails to my sailor on the day he leaves. I write lots and lots of blog posts in those sad days. I make goals. I make plans. I use my emotions to push me outside of my cozy little 9-to-5 husband box.
  6. Finally, do something good. There’s nothing quite like brightening someone else’s day to make your own tough day a little easier. Leave a gift for another spouse whose sailor just left. Buy a meal for a homeless person. Give your kid an extra hug. See a need; fill it. It will make you feel better.

No bones about it: the first day is tough. It’s sad. It’s lonely. It’s terrible. Let it be all those things, but remember it is so much more. We are so lucky to live this life and create these one-of-a-kind memories. Someday all these tough moments will be just that … mere moments in a lifetime of amazing.


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I Got Tagged By Aubrey

It’s rolling around Facebook.

Another one of those, “I got tagged so I MUST answer this questions and then share with/force 5 of my friends to play along” kind of status updates. It’s a modern-day chain letter only without the stamps, dollar bills, or ominous threats. I have seen it a few times and ignored them all equally until now …

tag

My sixteen-year-old daughter, my oldest, my first wants photographic evidence of things that make me feel beautiful …

Well, first let me say that I don’t actually feel traditionally beautiful. I’m smart. I’m fun. I’m a good friend. I’m pretty good at fixing things, and I do my best at the whole wife-and-mother thing, but beautiful? No, just not my thing. Oddly, I guess, that’s never bothered me. Some people confuse this for low self-esteem, but it’s not. Really. And it isn’t a bid for compliments or pats on the back. Trying to be beautiful is just not high on my list of priorities.

It probably doesn’t make sense. I know. And if I can’t make it make sense to the world in a blog post (words being kinda my thing), how do you explain it to a teenage girl? Yikes …

But here’s my attempt.

I am not traditionally beautiful, but I do know beauty. So here, my sweet girl, is the proof …

Josh & Me

I have a best friend and soul mate who saves his best and only silliness for me.

My kids

And together we created three of the most amazing creatures.

The ocean

I know my happy place. It ebbs and flows in my soul.

friends

I know true friendship, the kind that prevails great distances and too much time.

mypath

I am learning to follow my path. I can’t always see it clearly, but I feel I am walking in the right direction.

There it is. I have been tagged, and I have answered. What makes me feel beautiful isn’t a good hair day, a cute selfie, or a quirky grin. It is the life I am creating and the beautiful people with whom I share it.

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